Q&A: Streamlining specialty
In January, specialty pharmacy group contracting organization Armada Health Care introduced ApproveRx, a Web-based system that it says will greatly streamline the prior authorization process and already has been adopted by Amber Pharmacy. Meanwhile, the company also is gearing up for the Armada Summit at the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel in May. Recently, Drug Store News spoke with Armada CEO Larry Irene about these recent developments.
DSN: How did Armada develop the ApproveRx system?
Larry Irene: ApproveRx was developed as an extension of Armada’s ReachRx Prior Authorization Service, which utilizes our expert staff to manage the prior authorization process and obtain approvals. ApproveRx meets the needs of healthcare professionals requiring a “do-it-yourself” solution to streamline and expedite prior authorizations. The free, Web-based tool can be accessed via a standard browser and used for all drugs, including specialty medications.
DSN: How will ApproveRx make a difference in how specialty pharmacies handle prior authorizations?
Irene: ApproveRx has a library of more than 6,000 prior authorization forms for virtually all drugs and insurance plans. With ApproveRx, healthcare professionals can quickly find prior authorization forms and submit them to prescribers or insurance plans in minutes. ApproveRx’s at-a-glance dashboard allows pharmacies and prescribers to efficiently track open and submitted prior authorizations so they can focus on caring for patients.
DSN: What issues do you foresee as the main focus at the Armada Summit in May?
Irene: The Armada Summit continues to deliver our attendees in-depth discussions and presentations that impact their daily business. Key areas of focus for the event in May will include technology’s evolving role in specialty, [risk evaluation mitigation strategies], the potential impact of potential managed care contracting strategies and the specialty pipeline.
MTM fights diabetes on the front lines
The number of patients with diabetes is not decreasing any time soon, and one of the most important fronts in the battle lies at the pharmacy counter.
Medication therapy management, one of the most effective ways that pharmacists can help patients manage their diabetes, got a major boost last year with the introduction of H.R. 891, the Medication Therapy Management Benefits Act, which would allow elderly people with at least one chronic condition to access Medicare Part D coverage for MTM; currently, only those with more than one condition are eligible. At press time, the bill’s sponsors — Reps. Mike Ross, R-Ala., and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. — were looking for cosponsors for the bill.
In the meantime, a number of retailers have taken the lead in providing care and services for diabetes patients. Kerr Drug, for example, a longtime leader in MTM, recently launched the “Just Ask” campaign in stores and across various marketing channels, focusing on 11 conditions, including diabetes. Also, Safeway joined the UnitedHealth Group’s Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance and began offering the DPCA diabetes control program at Tucson, Ariz., area stores, with plans to extend it to Seattle-area stores. Other retailers in the program include Winn-Dixie, Walgreens, Albertsons, Kroger and Rite Aid.
Bydureon takes on diabetes
The market for drugs to treat diabetes — especially Type 2 diabetes — has shown quite a bit of activity lately. At the end of January, the Food and Drug Administration approved Bydureon (exenatide), a once-weekly version of the drug Byetta, which was originally developed by Alkermes and subsequently developed further under an alliance between Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly that the two companies formed in 2002. In November 2011, however, Amylin and Lilly terminated their alliance in the wake of an announced diabetes drug partnership between Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim. Still, Amylin and Lilly agreed to share profits from exenatide drugs, and Amylin will make a $150 million milestone payment to Lilly if the Food and Drug Administration approves a once-monthly formulation of the drug.
The Lilly-Boehringer Ingelheim partnership also has been fruitful. In May 2011, the FDA approved Tradjenta (linagliptin), subsequently approving Jentadueto (linagliptin and metformin) tablets in January 2012.
According to some analysts, Bydureon could achieve annual sales of $1 billion. A Decision Resources study, released last month, found that surveyed endocrinologists would prescribe Bydureon to one-fifth of patients. “We expect Bydureon will displace Victoza (liraglutide) and will earn our proprietary gold-standard status for Type 2 diabetes in 2015,” Decision Resources analyst Christine Helliwell said.